News Releases


For Immediate Release:

November 30, 2012

Manila — Philippine Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago has filed a resolution urging the Senate to look into the condition of Mali, a 38-year-old solitary and ailing female elephant suffering at the Manila Zoo. In Senate Resolution No. 884, Defensor-Santiago urges the body to study the transfer of Mali to an elephant sanctuary in Thailand, which has already agreed to accept her.

"The sanctuary in Thailand could provide her with all the things that the Manila Zoo could not, including the care of experts and the company of other elephants. Several elephant experts have said that Mali is suffering from a number of ailments, including a potentially fatal foot condition," Santiago said.

Defensor-Santiago joins a growing list of high-profile individuals and organizations—spearheaded by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Asia—calling for Mali's transfer.

In the resolution, Defensor-Santiago cites 12 compelling reasons why Mali must be transferred to the sanctuary at once. Prominent among them are the Philippine Animal Welfare Act, which states that it is unlawful for any person to neglect to offer adequate care to any animal. According to Dr. Henry M. Richardson, a noted elephant veterinarian who traveled to the Philippines for the express purpose of observing Mali, she is suffering from untreated and potentially fatal foot ailments, including cracks that are open to infection and that must urgently be addressed by a trained foot-care specialist.

Santiago also filed a bill amending the Animal Welfare Act to address the plight of animals, especially those in captivity. Senate Bill No. 3319 seeks to create a special working group that shall oversee the health and welfare of animals in captivity, particularly those in zoos. The bill also provides for a limited time frame upon which the Bureau of Animal Industries (BAI) and Department of Agriculture (DA) should act upon a complaint.

"The Animal Welfare Act, apart from the small pecuniary penalties, is bereft of penalties targeting irresponsible or negligent, and culpable government officials The Animal Welfare Act should, therefore, address current issues hounding the state of animals in captivity and its inadequacy to provide for a provision ensuring government action," Santiago said. 

More than 40 prestigious animal-protection organizations from around the globe have added their names to PETA's call to transfer Mali. Also lending their support are film legend Brigitte Bardot, British musician Morrissey, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, and Dr. Jane Goodall.

PETA has offered to cover the entire cost of the transfer, and make all the needed arrangements. The transfer would come at no cost or burden to the government.

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